Living & Entertainment

Marc Price has successfully survived the transition from child actor

In the 1980s, Marc Price was better known as Skippy, the nerdy friend of Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox, on the popular NBC sitcom “Family Ties.” Skippy’s unrequited crush on an indifferent Mallory Keaton, played by Justine Bateman, was a motif in the story line.

Today Price, 47, tours the country as a stand-up comic.

The career isn’t new for Price — it’s how he got started in the entertainment business.

On Saturday, Price is bringing his “Fresh Jar of Skippy” standup tour to Dave’s of Milton. On Sunday, he’ll be at One Eyed Jack’s Roadhouse in Lynnwood.

The newspaper caught up with Price from his Laurel Canyon home in Los Angeles.

Q: You moved to California at a young age. Where did you grow up?

A: New Jersey. Best move I ever made.

Q: What did you do before “Family Ties?”

A: I was a kid comedian. I went on “The Merv Griffin Show” when I was 14. It went really well. They called me back again right away. I bombed the second time. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have another act.

Q: How old were you when you were cast on “Family Ties?”

A: About the same age. It was “The Merv Griffin Show” that started it all. NBC brought me in and started grooming me. For a moment I was going to be on “Mama’s Family.”

Q: I understand your father, Al Bernie, was a comedian. Would he take you on the road?

A: Yes, to the Catskills Mountains. That was near the end of that era. My dad was very famous there in the ’50s. He was on the radio with Fred Allen. He started as a mimic. He was more talented than me.

Q: What about your mom?

A: My mom was a singer when she met my dad. They had me, and they would bring me out on stage for a cheap laugh. But my mom just hates the (entertainment) business. She wanted a different life for me. On Mother’s Day each year I call and apologize. She didn’t get what she wanted.

Q: You are child actor survivor. That’s an accomplishment.

A: Screech (“Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond) stabbed somebody in a bar fight recently. It said in the paper he was defending his fiancée. I thought, “Screech has a fiancée?” What am I? Chopped liver? He’s one of the more well adjusted child stars. It’s just below Unabomber on the list of things you want to be when your date introduces you to her parents. “This is Marc. He’s a former child actor. Now, he’s a stand-up comic.”

Q: You must have seen the stand-up world change a lot since you were 14.

A: I was there for the beginning of the comedy club era. In fact, Seattle was the first place I went on the road — when I was 17.

Q: You must have still been on “Family Ties?”

A: I was. It was the height of “Family Ties.” I was on KING news. And performed at Pioneer Square. I had one of the best times of my life.

Q: Who are your influences?

A: It’s hard to define who I am on stage. I have a lot of influences. I started in the Catskill Mountains. My dad took me to see George Carlin, Robert Klein, David Brenner, Jackie Mason. Then I moved to Hollywood and it was Sam Kinison and Jim Carrey and other guys from The Comedy Store.

Q: So, it’s a little bit of everything?

A: Yes. A reviewer once said I was 300 comedians in one. He wasn’t being complimentary.

Q: Do your audiences want to hear “Family Ties” stories?

A: Audiences are too young. I don’t make Mallory jokes anymore because they don’t work.

Q: Well, tell me a “Family Ties” story. The more salacious the better.

A: I had a friend at Paramount, a guard, who had keys to everything. He had the night shift. I used to come back to the studios at night. We got into the Starship Enterprise. He would flip a switch and things would start to blink. We would bring girls to the “Cheers” bar. Those are memorable highlights.

Q: I understand you are a spokesperson for a new water technology?

A: Yes, it’s a labor of love. It’s something that can help the world to feed itself.

Q: In a nutshell, what’s it about?

A: It’s called a smartfarm (by Evaporative Control Systems.) It doesn’t tap the underground aquifer or snow pack. It captures rainwater. It uses a method called sand hydroponics. It uses 75 percent less water than current techniques.

Q: This could come in very handy for our rapidly expanding marijuana operations here in Washington.

A: It works well for that, too. It’s off grid. You can set it up to work off only rainwater. We can set it up in the back of a national forest somewhere. But, it’s for people who can’t feed themselves (in drought areas.) Imagine people collecting and managing their own water.

Q: Back to entertainment, do you have any television projects you’re working on?

A: I produce and write for TV. None of them hit big enough where you would know the name. “Star Dates,” “National Lampoon’s Funny Money,” “Green Collar Comedy.”

Q: What else will you be doing while you are here in Washington?

A: Camping. I love the scenic grandeur of the Northwest. That’s what draws me there. Nobody has it better than Washington. To make that happen I’ll take gigs anywhere. Even biker bars.